Cooks who for various reasons prefer to avoid soy and canola oils have moved into such products as rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, and peanut oil – and even coconut oil in some cases.
The recent practice in the USA of diverting peanut crops into the production of ethanol has meant that food grade peanuts have been scarcer and more expensive. Likewise peanut oil. Olive oil, grapeseed oil and rice bran oil are also somewhat more expensive than the bog standard canola and soy that provide the bulk of supermarket cooking oils.
Recent disturbing experience at a number of Asian food suppliers and supermarkets suggests we need to pay a little more attention when we buy these food oils. What you will likely find is a container clearly labelled “Grapeseed Oil” or “Peanut Oil”, or “Olive Oil”, etc, and when you look at the (very) fine print list of ingredients on the back you will find, for example, “Grapeseed Oil, Vegetable Oil”. In other words we are not getting pure grapeseed oil at all, or olive oil or peanut oil, but a blend that has been adulterated with God knows what. There is no indication in the large print that we are dealing with a blend.
Given that we are for whatever reason deliberately avoiding these generic “vegetable oils” when we elect to pay a little more for our olive or grapeseed or peanut oil etc, it is no good news to find that up to half of the more expensive product may consist of the very oils we are trying to avoid. (Convention rules that ingredients are listed in descending order.)
The message, as always, remains: Check the fine print panel on your groceries! You can still get the pure product, but you will need to pay attention.